On Monday we are taking a group of pupils to visit one of our partner schools, Robin Hood in Birmingham. The visit will go beyond pupils meeting their peers, being given a tour of the school and discussing teaching and learning. On this visit the children will be donning the uniform of Robin Hood and spending the day as a pupil. This small scale piece of ethnographic research is intended to give our teaching and learning group a real understanding of how different schools operate. Following the visit, the children will present their findings on how our schools are similar, how we differ in our approaches and what we can learn from each other. A reciprocal visit is planned for later in the year and ongoing online collaboration via class blogs will aid communication.
Over the years, our teaching and learning groups have enjoyed looking at a range of approaches to classroom practice, the use of effective questioning and the work of educators such Guy Claxton, Chris Quigley and Dylan Wiliam. They have visited partner schools, made videos, led assemblies, given presentations, collaborated on projects and even organised a teaching and learning conference. The groups have furthered their own understanding of teaching and learning and regularly share their findings to support developments in pedagogy across our schools.
Through our networked approach to teaching and learning we have facilitated opportunities for staff to visit partner schools and experience the day to day practice in a colleague’s class. This is always hugely appreciated and staff benefit from such an open and collaborative relationship. This will be the first time we have undertaken such a venture with pupils, the outcomes are eagerly awaited.
- Sharing our learning (smichael920.wordpress.com)
Successive governments and policy makers have presented schools with what is to be taught. Teachers have been directed to what are assumed to be the best pedagogical approaches via initiatives such as the national curriculum and national strategies, they have been given the content to be delivered and the ways to deliver it. Does such an approach make an ideal teacher? Delivering such a top down model would certainly meet the requirements of policy makers, but would it meet the expectations of a range of stakeholders? If we were to ask parents, pupils and peers (fellow teachers) what would they say are the necessary qualities of an ideal teacher?
As a Headteacher, I believe the most important aspect of my role is to put the best teachers possible in front of the children, but what qualities and attributes make a person ideal? Dylan Wiliam was clear about the importance of the right teacher when he stated ‘it is not about the school your child attends, but which class in that school.’ Countless initiatives and strategies have been introduced over the years but they can only succeed if there is a teacher of the right calibre delivering them at the chalk face. One could argue whether indeed the best teachers need such a top down model? Are they not the best because they believe in taking risks? Because they are flexible and creative? Because they respond to the learners’ needs and are not afraid to deviate from the plan? Can such an approach sit comfortably alongside a prescribed national agenda?
A recent publication from Ofsted suggests ‘Teachers should also be encouraged to be creative and adventurous in their teaching, and to vary approaches depending on the nature of the learning planned for the lesson .’ (Moving English Forward ,Ofsted March 2012) This is heartening news as it encourages practitioners to exercise their professional judgement, make informed choices and respond to need. These qualities would most certainly be present in the ideal teacher, but are there other prerequisites? Would parents argue that establishing positive relationships was the most important factor? Would pupils see classroom management as the precursor to any effective teaching? Are there common traits that different stakeholders would recognise in the ideal teacher, the habits of an effective classroom practitioner that are evident regardless of content, curriculum or strategy? I’d be grateful if you could share your own thoughts on what you believe to be the key qualities of the ideal teacher.